Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Inside Jokes

Posted below is a photo from a New York Times open panel discussion hosted by Ben Ratliff which featured Danilo Perez, Master Roy Haynes, Michael Brecker and myself. After a short briefing backstage, we met onstage to answer questions from Ben as well as the audience. I found the storie sand anecdotes from Mr. Haynes to be exceptionally historically compelling. Mush of what he offered can not be accurately found (if at all) in any biography or music history book. He clearly illustrated why it is imperitave that younger players seek the truths directly from the sources and contributors themselves - without filler content or embellishment.

However, situations such as this can be challenging, depending on the participant's state of mind, attention span or the level of fatigue that they may be fighting. As active, traveling artists we often have to summon inordinate amounts of energy to stay attentive during panels and interviews. Methods may vary, and those efforts are not always detectable to outside parties. Here, Mike and I are trying not to laugh out loud in front of the audience and are recovering from one of my many under-the-breath wisecracks - that were probably responses to questions that were not necessarily directed to us. I enjoyed trying to make him lose his composure, while he snickered with a straight face. That evening, he didn't crack. Perhaps because Roy Haynes was on the set. It didn't prevent me from trying though. Mike was a very interesting guy, and I always admired his work ethic and the way that he crafted his exceptionally recognizable identity in music. I met him during my early New York days when I toured with trumpeter Jon Faddis and he was always generous with information and very inspiring. He used to leave lines and melodic phrases on my (cassette tape based) answering machine that I would play over and over.

Now if I can only locate those old tapes.....  I have no idea where they are.

Sometimes when I would see him through the years, when no one was around I would speak to him in a fake robot voice. I did this and would tease and call him "Roboticus" because I kiddingly joked that his playing sounded contrived and completely devoid of spontaniety. I accused him of over-practicing and dehumanizing everything, to which he always got a kick out of me doing so. This wasn't true,  of course, and speaking to him that way was only a thinly-veiled attempt to goad him into proving me wrong on the spot. If we were backstage, in the dressing room or if he had his horn, he would laugh and answer my robotic voice with one of his mind-blowing signature blazing lines - played super fast. He was only giving me a musical response to my jokes. But I wasn't laughing at that point.

Needless to say, I would stop speaking in that robot voice immediately. lol.